I had not taken part in a swap in a very long time, so when I spotted the call for sign-ups for the #petitepatchworkswap, I put my hand up even though the sensible side of my brain knew that my time is limited and I should not. The swap organiser, @jasminesews, asked everyone to make a pouch and a small placemat or large coaster – small and manageable, I thought.
I know some people avoid swaps like the plague, but I genuinely enjoy them. I like the challenge of making something small for someone else and playing with techniques that my everyday sewing might not allow.
In my New Year clean-out of my sewing room, I had rediscovered a packet of vintage embroidery transfers that were once my great-grandmother’s. They are old, but I am not sure how old. The two things in the parcel that are dated are The Safety-Curtain, a complete novel by Ethel M Dell, which is from 1916, and a Beehive Tapestry Wools / Stitchcraft free transfer, which is dated 1953.
Also during my sewing room clean-out, I neatly folded my Liberty stash. It might seem a bit clean-freak to some, but I love how I can now see everything I have, and it all fits into one drawer instead of two, freeing up the second drawer for something else. I have since got carried away and tidied my undies, scarves and sock drawers too.
All of these elements – the sewn illustrations, the embroidery transfers and my neat Liberty stash – came together to inspire this.
I am really happy with how the owl pouch turned out. There were a stupidly large number of thread ends to bury as I stopped and started short bursts of machine stitching, using Aurifil 12 weight on the top and normal thread in the bobbin, but it was worth it.
When making the pouch, I miscalculated the pouch base and cut it a little deeper than for other box pouches I have made based on Ayumi Mill’s book Patchwork Please!, but I liked the idea of extra room, so I carried on and adjusted all the other measurements to suit.
I have two tricks when lining these boxy pouches: I cut the lining pieces slightly smaller to avoid bunching inside, and I roughly machine sew the lining seam allowances to the pouch seam allowances on the inside top edges so the lining does not droop into the pouch. The lining is otherwise made as a separate piece and hand sewn around the zipper.
I do not think I would ever use a ‘snack mat’, so I was thinking more along the lines of something to put a vase on when I sewed the mat.
The simple flower transfer I used had been cut out and used by Nanna before me. I have a tray cloth with a crocheted edge that Nanna transferred this design to and started embroidering. The needle is still attached, but very little has been stitched. I hope to one day unpick the handful of stitches she did and complete it, despite the fabric’s age. On the back of the transfer, in Nanna’s handwriting, is a note saying that she used the transfer fives times. I used a light box.
I hand quilted the mat simply from the ‘wrong’ side, using the patchwork grid to guide my lines.
In return, I was sent this fabulous parcel of goodies by @karynsews. The teacup mat is too cute to get dirty, so it is hanging above my sewing machine. I am using the scrappy mat as a coaster on my sewing table, and the llama (yet to be named) is perched atop and guarding my Liberty scrap bowl. I have not yet decided what to put in the pouch. What can it contain that will not obscure the fabulous lettering of ‘Make’?
The group as a whole made some lovely things, so it is worth checking out the hashtag #petitepatchworkswap if you are an Instagram user.
I have not done much other sewing in March. A problem with my eyes limited my abilities to sew anything fine and detailed or stare at a flickering computer screen, so I focused on baby knitting. March for me was all about dim lighting and audio books. The baby is now the size of an eggplant, and I have a half-finished jumper (sweater) and a baby blanket that needs a fancy border. I had better get my skates on!